June 19th - 25th, 2016
H2M Architects + Engineers
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“The MTA should not have a blank check to come into a community and build whatever it wants for virtually any purpose, regardless of the will of the community. Repealing this authority is an important step to protecting our communities’ ability to regulate their land use for the benefit of their residents, without impacting the MTA’s existing ability to provide important services.” - New York State Senator Jack Martins speaking on legislation to repeal the MTA's zoning exemption
EPA Assures Safety of Garvies Point Land
Vision joined around 150 stakeholders at an EPA meeting at Glen Cove High School this week, where some residents raised concerns about a former industrial area’s safety as the Garvies Point project moves forward.
You can read more about the EPA’s measures to ensure safety at the Garvies Point site in Newsday.
Long Island Coalition for the Homeless Celebrates Grand Opening of Amityville Community Resource Center
Vision joined hundreds of people on last week to support the LI Coalition for the Homeless for the grand opening of the Amityville Community Resource Center at Liberty Village in Amityville.
The Resource Center is the former home of the Armed Forces Recruitment and Training Center, which served as an operational military base and facility until it was closed in 2011. The 40,000 square foot building sits on nine acres of property and is now ready for its new purpose: serving homeless persons and veterans. 4 to 5 acres of the land is used to maintain 60 units of permanent, affordable housing for 60 veterans and their families. Concern for Independent Living was selected to maintain these properties by a local selection committee comprised of representatives from veteran agencies, the Departments of Social Services and Veteran Services, housing agencies and PHA’s. The units, which veterans were able to move into as of October, 2014, were made possible with the help of federal, state and local officials including Governor Cuomo, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, the Long Island Regional Economic Council, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, and Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer.
The Community Resource Center, located on a parcel of land in front of the 60 residential units, will allow 10 organizations who work to support Long Island’s homeless and veteran folks to be located in the same place. Participating groups include United Veterans Beacon House, Family Service League, Suffolk County United Veterans, and Concern for Independent Living. It was transferred to a subsidiary of the Long Island Coalition for the Homeless. The ultimate goal of the Resource Center is to provide people in need with a location where they can make an appointment and get housing assistance, case management employment training, counseling, and other necessary services in one visit from multiple agencies. The building will also contain a distribution center that will give out clothing, food, toiletries, and other essentials. Both the residential Liberty Village and the Resource Center have received Smart Growth Awards.
Speakers at the grand opening included Coalition President Charlie Russo, Executive Director Greta Guarton, Concern for Independent Living and Liberty Village Developer Ralph Fasano, Suffolk Veteran Services Tom Ronayne, HUD’s Vincent Hom, as well as veterans who work and live at the facility. The Coalition’s achievements are testament to the leadership and determination of Director Greta Guarton, who, for the last 20 years, has led the group with concrete results. The opening of this Community Resource Center represents another step towards eliminating homelessness on Long Island.
You can read more about the Amityville Community Resource Center on their website.
Scoping Session Held for Syosset Park Development
Vision board and staff attended a scoping hearing held by the Town of Oyster Bay for the proposed Syosset Park mixed use development on Monday night. This new proposal follows a contentious and unsuccessful suggestion to build a mall on the site. Preliminary public meetings for this project, which plans to redevelop approximately 93 acres of land that was previously zoned for industrial purposes (and was the location of the former Town landfill) and transform it into a planned town center, were held back in March 2015. The new community would include 625 residential units, 464,000 square feet of retail, entertainment, and restaurant space, 200,000 square feet of office space, over 30 acres of parking, and two hotels. All of the buildings would be restricted to four stories.
The site was acquired in two parcels; in May 2013 the Simon Property Group, a shopping mall developer that includes the Garden City-based Albanese Organization and Castagna Realty, purchased the first 54-acre plot from Oyster Bay’s Department of Public Works. The Group then bought the adjacent 39-acre site from a rival mall builder, Taubman Centers, the following January. Taubman Centers had previously spent over 160 million dollars and 18 years in its quest of building a mall on the site before eventually selling the land to the Simon Group.
Attendees of the meeting suggested an expanded traffic analysis and confirmation that soil be tested for contamination. Vision mentioned the need to examine the possibility of including additional workforce housing and rental units as well as expanded transit options (via bus or shuttle, for example) and walkability within the development.
The next steps for the development include a final scope for the Environmental Impact Statement on the project which will adhere to State Environmental Quality Review requirements, as well as some of the concerns that were mentioned at the meeting. Following will be a period to comment on the document with public hearings before the Town. The town board is allowing written comments from the public and other agencies on the project’s scoping draft until July 13.
You can read more about the proposed development here.
Local Officials Raise Concern Over Exempt Zoning for MTA
Local elected officials held a meeting last week in Freeport to rally behind the movement to repeal a provision hidden within the state budget that exempts the Metropolitan Transit Authority from laws and zoning rules for any property that it redevelops. A number of local officials worried that the MTA may lease some of the land that it controls to developers for multistory commercial developments without local review in order to cover their rising costs. The law would also allow new developments, such as an apartment building, to not pay local property taxes or contribute to the cost of services for new residents.
The MTA claims that they already had the ability to ignore local zoning laws and that this new stipulation was just a way to clarify their powers. While there have not been issues in the past with this law, some point out that raising real-estate values are causing the MTA to look for new ways to increase revenue. Additionally, the language of the law was altered in the state budget legislation that was passed on April 1st. While the law has always exempted the MTA from local zoning requirements on facilities for “transportation or transit purposes”, the new law now allows exemption for all efforts that indirectly benefit transportation. This includes projects that may generate revenue that could cover some of the MTA’s cost. They further argue that even with this authority in the past, they have always worked in a collaborative manner with local government and officials on projects ranging from the Hudson Yards district in Manhattan to residential and commercial projects in more suburban areas.
A number of officials support the repeal of the law, including Assemblyman Brennan from Brooklyn and the New York City government, which has suggested other ways the MTA could make money, such as going into the real-estate-development business. The city specifically cited its concerns that they would lose power to review the redevelopment of the former MTA headquarters located near Grand Central Terminal at 347 Madison Avenue. While no procedures that are currently in place are set to change, city officials are concerned that the law will make them inferior to the MTA in future negotiations.
However, on June 17, Senator Jack Martins announced that legislation he had sponsored that repeals the provision of the law that gave the MTA virtually unimpeded power to ignore local zoning codes has been passed by the New York State Senate. He emphasized that despite the pledges from MTA officials not to change their practices, something as important as this should not depend solely on promises. “The MTA should not have a blank check to come into a community and build whatever it wants for virtually any purpose, regardless of the will of the community. Repealing this authority is an important step to protecting our communities’ ability to regulate their land use for the benefit of their residents, without impacting the MTA’s existing ability to provide important services,” noted Senator Martins. The Assembly also passed the legislation and it will now be sent to Governor Cuomo for review.
You can read more about the concerns of local municipalities over the lack of control over their local zoning on MTA-owned properties, as well as Senator Martins’ new legislation in the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and from Senator Martins press release.
10-20 Bus Routes to be Cut in Suffolk County
Officials say that between 10 and 20 bus routes will be cut in Suffolk County after the Fair Share Commuter Tax legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ramos and Senator Martins did not pass during the New York State legislative session. These cuts are likely to have severe impacts on the 1500 working residents and students who rely on the bus routes to make it to school and work each day. Aaron Watkins-Lopez, an organizer for Long Island Bus Riders Union, said, “It’s abhorrent and disheartening to see them cut so many routes.”
Approximately 3 million dollars will be saved in the remainder of 2016 after the routes with low ridership are eliminated in September. The county is currently facing a projected $129.4 million budget deficit in the upcoming year. While service will not fully be suspended, a number of additional bus routes are still likely to see the frequency of service reduced. A list of Suffolk’s bus routes to be cut will be released later this week. Hearings will be organized for this summer in order to inform the public of the reduced transportation service.
County Executive Steve Bellone initially cut 10 million dollars in transportations services for the disabled, hoping that the county would consequently receive more state funding. Last March, Bellone suggested to lawmakers in Albany that they send back 32.5 million dollars of the 1.5 billion dollars in revenues from the unpopular MTA payroll tax to the county to help prevent cuts to local bus service. Many people viewed this as a gamble with the potential to negatively impact scores of low-income riders. Suffolk County will receive 26 million dollars in bus and disabled transportation funding from the state, just a portion of the 66 million dollars Nassau County is set to receive. Despite the fact that Nassau’s bus system carries over 4 times as many riders as Suffolk’s, officials insist that the number of lane miles, which are very similar in each county, is truly what drives up costs. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan called Suffolk’s attempt to receive more state funding by threatening to cut transportation services “highly inappropriate”. Public Works Commissioner Gil Anderson said that the reduction in cuts from 10 million dollars to 3 million dollars is due to the decreasing prices of gasoline and diesel, as well as a federal grant for Suffolk County Accessible Transportation. At this point, no routes servicing disabled riders are expected to be cut.
DuWayne Gregory, Suffolk Presiding Officer, was disappointed by the county’s inability to receive more funding from the state, claiming, “These cuts will come on the backs of those who can least afford it.” However, county lawmakers insist that there are no other places to reduce costs in the budget. A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo pointed out that state transportation aid for Suffolk’s transportation systems had increased by 1.5 million dollars, or six percent, from last year. Vision’s director, Eric Alexander, contended that the bus cuts will hurt efforts to promote economic development in downtowns. “It clearly sends the wrong message,” he said.
You can read more about the bus route cuts in Suffolk County in Newsday.
Albany's Legislative Session: A Mix of Progress and Many Missed Opportunities.....
Not a year of overwhelming progress from
Albany but there were some highlights. Here is a summary of Vision and LI Lobby Coalition priorities:
While none of these were on our list, of course there were a series of entertainment and lifestyle issues that did move forward:
Farmingdale Live at Five on Main Events this Summer
Farmingdale Live at Five On Main is a free summer program offering a number of music nights to people in downtown Farmingdale Village. The event will take place four times throughout the summer, with dates set for July 14th, July 28th, August 11th, and August 25th from 5pm to 9pm. Three bands will perform each night along Main Street between Prospect Street and North Front Street. The event will focus on more than just music; many merchants, restaurants, and clubs will be participating to provide the public with a number of options for dining and shopping. Three of the four nights will also feature a movie night on the Village Green, weather permitting.
No traffic will be allowed on Main Street on either side of Conklin Street from 4pm to 10pm, allowing for a two block pedestrian area for the events. Free parking will be available in Village parking lots, which are located along Conklin, on Main Street, north and south of the street closure, in the former Waldbaum’s parking lot, along neighboring streets, or in the Train Stations Lots after 4 pm. Similar events are also being held in Patchogue (Alive After Five), on July 7th, July 21st, August 4th, and August 18th, and in Riverhead (Alive on 25) on July 14th, July 28th, August 11th, and August 25th. Farmingdale and Riverhead's events are modeled after Patchogue's Alive After Five event (now in its 15th year), which was recently awarded a Smart Growth Award.
More information about participating merchants and supporters and rain dates is available on Farmingdale's Live at Five’s website.
Westbury Concert Series
The Village of Westbury will be hosting its free evening concert series at the Piazza Ernesto Strada in the Village of Westbury Square on the corner of Post Avenue and Maple Avenue. Free parking for attendees will be available in the Village Madison Avenue parking lot behind Rite Aid. All of this year’s concerts will be held on Fridays from 7pm to 9pm. Featured performers include Dance Visions NY, North Shore Pops, and Sonido Clasico. The series will also include an art event to complement the music. Handmade cards and Paint Night are just a couple of the activities to be held in conjunction with the concerts.
For more information, you can visit the Greater Westbury Council for the Arts’ website.
Dance Visions NY with Art by Jay Stuart
The Greater Westbury Council for the Arts is hosting an evening of dance and art on July 1st from 7pm to 9pm.
Dance Visions NY, one of Long Island’s celebrated dance companies, will be performing a series of joyous outdoor dances to welcome in the summer. At the same time, Jay Stuart will be exhibiting his art and present a live art rendering. Stuart’s work consists mainly of illustrations made with India ink and brush. This event will take place at the Piazza Ernesto Strada at the corner of Post Avenue and Maple Avenue in Westbury.
More information about this event and upcoming summer events can be found on Westbury Arts’ website.
2nd Annual Coltrane Day Music Festival in Huntington
The Coltrane Home in Dix Hills in partnership with the Town of Huntington Summer Arts Festival and the Huntington Arts Council is hosting the Second Annual Coltrane Day Music Festival at Heckscher Park in Huntington Village on Saturday, July 23 from 12pm to 10:30pm.
The event will feature live music all day, 15 plus workshops and community jams, local artists, food, and exhibits. This great festival will bring together music lovers and musicians of all ages to listen to and play a variety of music ranging from jazz to funk, blues, electronic, and even hip-hop. To find out more, to sponsor the event, or to register for workshops, please visit Coltrane Home's website.
Free Huntington Station Bicycle Safety Fair
The Huntington Station Bicycle Safety Fair is an event meant to recognize and acknowledge locals who use bicycles to commute around their communities. The fair will take place at St. Hugh’s Church , 21 E 9th Street in Huntington Station from 12PM-4PM on Saturday, July 16th.
“Although not a cyclist myself, I care deeply for those who have the integrity to travel via bicycle in almost any weather condition, day or night, to make it to their places of employment,” said Angela Satcher, an organizer of the event. “Everyone deserves to be safe on the road. Until Long Island recognizes the need for safer cycling conditions, this the least I can do to make it safer in Huntington. “
Review Meetings for NYMTC Drafts
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Council (NYMTC), a regional council of governments that provides a collaborative planning forum to address transportation-related issues among other items, has organized drafts of its Federal Fiscal Years (FFYs) 2017 to 2021 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). There will be a thirty-day public comment period for these draft products, beginning on Wednesday June 22, 2016 and ending at 4 pm on Thursday, July 21, 2016 in order for the public to provide feedback on the Transportation Conformity Determination draft and TIP.
At the commencement of the comment period, all drafts will be made available online. A number of Public Review Meetings will be held at both 3pm and 6:30pm on July 12 on Long Island at Republic Airport Main Terminal in Farmingdale, and on July 13 in New York City at the NYMYC location. Webinars will also be offered to accommodate people who are unable to attend the meetings. In order to RSVP for a meeting and request a hard copy of the drafts, you may contact Toshema Johnson at 212-383-7256 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more information about the drafts including addresses for the review meeting locations and information regarding Plan 2045 here.
Intern with Vision Long Island!
Vision Long Island is looking for interns! Our staff likes to say we "wear many hats," and interns will have to do the same. Interns will assist with planning, design, outreach, event planning, writing, research, attending meetings, reporting, photography, video and more. Bring your unique skill set to the table! We are looking for energetic and conscientious individuals with an interest in urban/suburban planning from a bottom-up perspective. This is a valuable opportunity to work with great people and learn about the issues impacting Long Island. Strong writing skills a plus.
Senior Community Planner Wanted for NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program
The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery is hiring a Senior Community Planner to develop and implement projects and programs that are driven by the community. This position requires close work with other staff in the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, as well as local officials and community members.
A Bachelor’s degree and 8 years of full time experience, or a Master’s degree and 6 years of full time experience are required for this position. To view the full job position click here, or you may email Jeanmarie Buffett, the Long Island Director, here with any questions.
Habitat Suffolk Seeks AmeriCorps Members
Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk has several AmeriCorps crew leader positions available. The members serving in this role will be part of the AmeriCorps team that will give the necessary boost to significantly increase the number of families that the Habitat Suffolk affiliate is able to serve through their affordable housing rehab and new construction projects. These are 10 ½ month terms of service.
Applicants must be 18 years of age or older, be a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, and have a high school diploma/GED, or agree to work towards one while serving. As well as gaining new skills on the job, Americorps members will receive health insurance, are eligible to receive a $5,730 award to pay for college, sick pay, and childcare assistance, as well as other benefits.
Information about this program and the positions available can be seen here. For more details, please contact Lindsey Gordon at 631-HABITAT x114.
Over $200 Million in Funding Available for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects
New York State has more than $200 million in expired earmarks and grants available that can now be spent due to provisions in the current federal transportation funding bill, Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST). This money includes over $18 million for projects involving bicycles and pedestrians, as well as other roadway improvements. Parks & Trails New York has assembled a website that explains both eligibility requirements and a map illustrating where each earmark may be used.
Long Island has several million dollars that were earmarked for projects over 10 years ago, with the projects either not coming to fruition, being partially complete, or being funded by other sources. Instead of losing out on those earmarks, funding will be able to be repourposed for other projects within a 50 mile radius of the original project location., that are eligible for Surface Transportation Block Grant funding, and that will be complete on or before September of 2019. The maximum Federal share of funding for the new project must be the same as the share of the original project.New York State has to notify the Federal Highway Authority of its decision to repurpose the money by August 29, 2016, so the deadline is quickly approaching. You can contact your bicycle and pedestrian coordinator if you have an eligible local project for which you would like to receive funding. For more information or if you have any questions, please call Parks & Trails New York at 518-434-1583, or email Ron Epstein of NYSDOT at email@example.com
What's happening on your Main Street this weekend?
For information, visit their website.
Garvies Point Museum and Preserve
For information, visit their website or call 516-439-5218
For information, visit their website or call 516-822-7505
For information, visit their website.
For information, visit their website or call 516-922-5032
Bow Tie Port Washington
For information, visit their website or call 516-766-0300
Cold Spring Harbor
For information, visit their website or call 631-351-3250
Port Jefferson Historical Society
For information, visit their website or call 631-473-2665
For information, visit their website or call 631-725-0770
For information, visit their website or call 631-563-0186
For information, visit their website or call 631-862-6575
For information, visit their website or call 631-268-2494
For information, visit their website.
Crumbling Infrastructure Inspires The Onion Article
Many of the nation’s roads are in poor condition, and the streets and avenues that wind throughout Long Island are no exception. Brutal winters unleash a pothole plague year after year, punishing both the roads and the drivers and pedestrians who are so dependent on them as a means of transportation. Weather is not the only guilty party, though; the magnitude of Long Island’s daily traffic causes an immense amount of wear and tear too. In fact, travel on New York State highways have increased 21 percent between 1990 and 2013, despite the fact that the population has only increased 9 percent. Many motorists feel discouraged by the poor conditions of roads that seemingly never improve. Although the new long-term highway bill signed last year is a step in the right direction, much more needs to be done to address the country's crumbling infrastructure.Such treacherous road conditions and a lack of response to properly remedy neglected roadways has inspired an article from The Onion about how officials are able to find “a certain kind of beauty in decay” in an effort to justify and excuse their lack of action in resolving the crumbling infrastructure. You can read the article here.
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